The grass felt soft on my bare feet as I thatched swaths of cut green blades in rows across the back yard. Through an upstairs window I could hear Calvin squealing with delight, vigorously splashing water in the bathtub. Then things went silent and the nurse’s calm yet urgent voice called my name. Immediately I knew something was wrong. Without answering her I instantly kicked off my loose leather flip-flops, darted across the yard into the house and flew up the stairs solidly by twos. As I rounded the corner into our bedroom I saw Calvin lying naked on the corner of the bed where the nurse had put him, his thin legs flopping off the side jerking in spastic waves. His feet were blue. He was dripping wet so I grabbed a towel, laid it over him and patted him dry as the convulsions ripped through his body, his mind.
The nurse went to fetch a second towel just as Calvin entered what I call the second phase of his seizure, the one where he seems to struggle for each breath. The sound he makes is haunting, like wind sucking through a narrow crack in an old wooden door or the dry rasp one imagines of a choking victim. Then he entered his third phase—contorted limbs, terrified expression and trembling all over.
And although I’ve seen Calvin have hundreds of these seizures, it’s still so very difficult to describe the feeling of helplessness, despair and heartbreak to witness your very own innocent, pure flesh and blood writhing there like some helpless fish on a dry dock. And all I can do is sit there and watch, and wait, and know there will only be more.
|photo by Michael Kolster|